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June 19 2013

Analysis on North Korea's Nuclear Talk

North Korea has recently tried to open discussion with South Korea and the United States on the denuclearization issue. 38 North project site posted a detailed analysis on current inter-Korean dynamics and future prospects. 

June 13 2013

North Korean State TV's Real-time Facebook Broadcasting a Hoax?

Local media reported last Thursday that North Korea's state TV, Korean Central Television started real-time Facebook broadcasting, citing official sources. However, North Korea Tech blog listed several things that don’t quite add up

May 31 2013

A Story of Young North Korean Defector

Concerns over insufficient protection of North Korean refugees have grown ever stronger as news came out that nine young North Korean defectors have been forced to return to North Korea after being captured in Laos. The Dreamer blog shared a story of young North Korean defector who explains in detail what kind of life he had fled from.

May 22 2013

Video: Mapping North Korea

Several months earlier, Google debuted its new crowd-sourced map of one of the most reclusive countries in the world, North Korea. Martyn Williams shared a video on his Youtube channel where Google Maps’ vice president talks about mapping North Korea.

May 01 2013

South Korea Pulls Out of Joint Industrial Complex in North Korea

A nearly decade-old, jointly run industrial complex in North Korea, a place often referred as “last bastion of hope” [ko] for Korean reunification, is on the verge of a shutdown.

The South Korean government has ordered the withdrawal of South Korean workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, almost emptying the park by April 29, 2013 and leaving only seven workers behind to negotiate unpaid wages for North Korean workers.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex of North Korea is a special collaborative venture with South Korea which began operating in 2004. North Korea offers South Korean companies with cheap labor and inexpensive land, and South Korean companies, in return, provides basic infrastructure, raw materiel and the capital to run the site and most importantly, employ North Korean workers and pay them with the precious foreign currency. 

Model Industrial Complex (factories) in Kaesong Industrial Area, North Korea

Model Industrial Complex (factories) in Kaesong Industrial Area, North Korea, Image by User Mimura, Uploaded in Wikipedia (CC 3.0)

Until this most recent flare-up of tensions between the Koreas, business has thrived in the complex despite moments of cross-border conflict. As of early 2013, 53,000 North Korean employees in the complex collected around $90 million a year in wages, an important source of income for the impoverished North.

But the shutdown is a terrible financial blow for the South, as well. The South Korean government estimates [ko] the loss caused by the end of operations will be around one trillion Korean won (about 902 million United States dollars), while the companies involved claim [ko] it could surpass ten trillion won (about 9.02 billion US dollars).

South Korean hawks have flooded the Web welcoming the news of the country's withdrawal from the industrial complex, while others lamented the loss of the cooperative effort between North and South.

Some net users pointed out the shutdown means more than financial consequences:

@tenelux: 개성공단 피해액이 최대 10조원이 될 수도 있다고[...] 게다가 그 자리에 장사정포 다시 들어서면 안보리스크도 올라갈테고.

@tenelux: The loss of companies in the Kaesong Complex can amount to 10 trillion Korean won [...] Worse, what if that space is replaced with long-range missiles? It will only increase the national security risk.

@histopian: 개성공단은 북한군을 15km 후퇴시켰고, 남한 체제를 부러워하고 학습하는 5만 여 명의 북한 노동자를 만들었습니다. 경제적 손익과 별도로, 군사적 손익도 따져 봐야 할 겁니다. http://www.nocutnews.co.kr/Show.asp?IDX=2479596 …

@histopian: By building Kaesong Complex, the North’s army [in the region] moved 15 kilometers to the north [from their previous frontline]. The complex, furthermore, has made 50,000 North Korean workers think highly of South Korea’s [free-market economic] system and be willing to learn about it. Apart from pure economic profits aside, the military benefits should not be ignored. [link to related news article]

This particular tweet [ko] highlighting the significance of the Kaesong Complex has been retweeted more than 280 times:

@jiksseol: 개성공단은 상품만 찍어내 온 게 아니다. 이는 평화의 공장이자 숨쉬는 기념탑이고, 남북 사이 가장 현실적인 완충지대였다[...]

@jiksseol: Kaesong Industrial Complex is more than a place where they churn out products. It is where peace was made and it was a living monument of peace, and one of the most realistic buffer zones between two Koreas.

Intense verbal conflicts erupted online between hawkish conservatives and progressives who support the “Sunshine Policy” that made Kaesong possible in the first place. Under this policy, South Korea gave various economic aids to the North, so that “sunshine” would create a wedge between the North Korean regime and its people and eventually lead to reform from the inside. Conservatives lashed out at the North for politicizing the venture for years and even pointed the finger at the former South Korean president who initiated the venture. Since the Complex's opening in 2004, operations have intermittently halted as the North uses it to express its displeasure with the South by refusing South Koreans entry to the Complex:

@cosmicgag: 그리고 개성공단은 평화유지를 위한 남북 채널이라고 사기치는데 그래서 북괴가 대포 쏘고 마사일 쏠때 개성공단 통해서 알려줬나? 개그는 개그맨이 하는거지.. 진보팔이, 종북들은 정신 좀 차려야죠.

@cosmicgag: Some people falsely claim that Kaesong has been a [good] communication channel between the two Koreas that maintained peace. But think what the North did so far: did they warn us about their shelling and missile launch via Kaesong Complex? [No.] Don't kid yourself. It is not funny at all. You progressive scammers and pro-North people need to wake up.

@gvoice01: 개성공단은 평화의고리가 아니라 인질이고 볼모였지. 문제의 시작이 북이거늘[...]

@gvoice01: Kaesong Industrial Complex has been never been “the bridge to peace”, but rather the hostage [held by the North]. Every problem has originated from North Korea.

The mainstream media's use of the word “hostage” in its characterization of any South Korean worker in the Kaesong Complex has fueled accusations of biased, sensational reporting. Actually, the workers who actually stayed at the Complex said [ko] their stay was not unusual, with plenty of water and food no physical threats from North Korean side whatsoever. Some net users chimed in:

@sh4corea: 보수언론, 개성공단 기사 모두 엉터리. ‘돈벌이수단 폐쇄못해’ ‘인질우려’? 북한, 직원 한명 붙잡지 않았다. 정부의 인질구출작전? 정부와 언론이 합작으로 ‘007영화’ 시나리오 썼다. 개성공단, 스파이영화·소설 소재 아니다[...]

@sh4corea: Conservative media’s coverage on the Kaesong Complex is all sham. They claim that the North “held [South Korean] workers hostage” since they “cannot let go of the cash cow”, but actually the North did not ask, not even one worker, to stay. [Some media outlet's headline read] “The government pulled off the hostage-rescue operation”. It is a far-fetched 007 story co-written by the media and the government. Kaesong is not a subject of spy novel or movie.

As South Korean companies in the Kaesong Complex are facing near bankruptcy by the current crisis, some of them are planning to file a lawsuit against the government for their astronomical financial loss. Discussions formed around how to understand the case — whether to treat it as an ordinary civil loss in need of government help, or a damage inflicted by the government itself:

@murutukus: 개성공단 업체들이 정부 상대로 소송을 걸게 되면 그 판결은 과연 어떻게 되는 건가.. 정부의 대북 정책 변화에 따른 피해니까 이게 보상이 되는 건지 배상이 되는건지.

@murutukus: When companies in the complex file a lawsuit against the government, how should the court treat this case? Since it was damage done by the change of the government’s North Korean policy, should it be treated as “compensation” or “reparation

April 23 2013

The North Korean Internet dilemma

North Korea Tech blogs about Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's visit to North Korea and his views on the limitation and potential of internet technology in the North Korea.

April 06 2013

Chinese on North Korean Propaganda

Fauna from ChinaSMACK puts together some comments from Chinese netizens on a North Korean propaganda video about Americans.

Screen Capture from a North Korean Propaganda video about poverty in the U.S.

Screen Capture from a North Korean Propaganda video about poverty in the U.S.

April 05 2013

North Korea Nuclear Threats Draw Arab Laughs

North Korea's threats to attack US military bases, including those on the American mainland, drew laughs from a number of Arab netizens.

Palestinian Ola Anan tweets [ar]:

تعليق بابا على تهديدات كوريا: أيوة بقى خليهم يتلهوا في بعضهم شوية ويحلّوا عنا

@olanan: My father's reactions to [North] Korea's threats: “Yes, let them get preoccupied with each other and leave us in peace.”

Syrian The 47th jokes:

@THE_47th: If this North Korean nuclear threat to US happened when Bush was president, he would have already ordered an attack on Cambodia. #GodBless

 Hesham Mansour shares <a href="https://twitter.com/Heshoz/status/319733231656267777">this picture</a> showing the Emir of Qatar cheering on the on-going war of words between North Korea and the US.


SATIRE: @Heshoz shares this picture showing the Emir of Qatar cheering on the on-going war of words between North Korea and the US.

While Lebanese Liliane A. notes:

@FunkyOzzi: The way I see it, #NorthKorea is the baby that lacks affection and just needs a hug.

Hadi Alabdullah, from Homs, Syria, adds [ar]:

منقول: الائتلاف الوطني السوري يدرس قرار تزويد الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية بأسلحة غير فتاكة وتقديم الدعم اللوجستي لها في حربها ضد كوريا :)

@HadiAlabdullah: The Syrian National Coalition studies a decision to provide the US with non-lethal weapons and logistical aid in its war against North Korea

Egyptian Ibrahim Elgarhi takes the opportunity to poke fun at his country's own president saying:

كوريا الشمالية تصدق رسميا على ضرب امريكا بالنووي.. وبكدة يبقى جونج تاني اعبط رئيس في العالم


@Ibrahim_Elgarhi:
North Korea approves Nuclear attack on US and thus makes Kim Jong-un the second most stupid president in the world

Hesham Mansour shares this picture showing the Emir of Qatar cheering on the on-going war of words between North Korea and the US. Qatar, the home of Al Jazeera television, has played a role in supporting many Arab Spring revolutions, even sending forces to Libya.

And on Brother Please, a Facebook page, contributors shared hilarious pictures and memes of North Korea's threat against the US.

Here's one of them:

Kim Jong-un portrayed as a Jihadist on Facebook page Brother Please

Kim Jong-un portrayed as a Jihadist on Facebook page Brother Please. The caption reads: We a coming to you with nuclear [weapons] without an agreement

Anonymous Hacks North Korean Sites, Reveals South Korean Users

As North Korea continues to escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula with the threat of nuclear war, hacktivist collective Anonymous hacked into North Korea's official Twitter and Flickr account and revealed the user registration list of the country's official website on April 4. The group posted an warning on April 2, claiming to have stolen user records from the North Korean government website.

A majority of South Korean net users initially welcomed the news. But opinion quickly soured after it was reported [ko] that 2,000 among the 9,001 users in the registration list are believed to be South Koreans, including [ko] activists, labor groups, members of the media, and academics, fueling concerns over possible human right violations following this revelation.

Joining North Korean sites is considered a serious anti-state activity in South Korea and is punishable by law up to several years in prison.

As proof of the claim that the collective had hacked North Korea, the North Korean Twitter feed sent out tweets that read “hacked” with links to North Korea-related websites. One tweet said “Tango Down” and linked to North Korean Flickr account where an unflattering image of Kim Jong-un with pig ears and nose and a Mickey Mouse belly tattoo was displayed. Texts in the image criticized Kim for “threatening world peace with ICBMs and nuclear weapons”, “wasting money while his people starve” and “concentration camps and the worst human rights violation in the world”.

The image has since been removed, but there are screen captures of the image when it was live.

Anonymous later posted its video press release YouTube.

The collective also published the confidential user records of North Korean news and information website Uriminzokkiri.com in PasteBin site, exposing users ID, sex, name, email, date of birth and password which appears to be hashed. 

Anonymous Hacks North Korean government sites, Original image- unclear, believe to have been posted in Uriminzokkiri Flickr account-- before it is gone.

An unflattering image that hactivist collective Anonymous allegedly posted on North Korea's official Flickr photostream.

Many raised concerns on social media that the list of usernames published by Anonymous could be used to “rat out” supposedly pro-North South Koreans:

@0103geeehyun: 회원명단 *상세하다… 해킹의 취지가 자꾸 도발하는 북한 위협하려는것이었을텐데 여론은 부차적으로 종북세력 척출해내는데에 초점..공개됨으로써 우,좌 대립은 더 세지겠군. 애니웨이 난 전쟁없는 나라에서 살고시퍼요

@0103geeehyun: The registration list is so f**cking detailed. The initial purpose of the hacking would be to blackmail North Korea who keep making provocations, but people seem to focus (not on the hacking itself but rather on) ratting out “pro-North” people in South Korea. By revealing this list, the conflict/division between the right and left side will grow deeper than ever. Anyways, on a personal level, I just want to live in a country with no war.

@jwmuzik_:  국제해커집단 어나니머스가 북한사이트 ‘우리민족끼리'를 해킹하여 9000여명의 가입자명단을 공개했는데, 그중에 상당수가 한국인이라는 소식. 대부분은 간첩과는 전혀 상관없는 평범한 사람들이고 일베충도 많던데 이메일도용당한 것으로 추정됨.

@jwmuzik_:  International hacker group Anonymous hacked North Korean site “Uriminzokkiri” and disclosed a list of 9,000 names who registered for the site and quite a lot of them were proven to be South Koreans. Most of them are believed to be innocent and irrelevant people and even few are users on the Ilbe site (extreme right-wing website taking a hostile stance against the North). It seems there have been email/identity theft.

Some conservatives as well as right-wing groups lavishly thanked [ko] Anonymous for disclosing names of people they believe either to be North Korean spies or pro-North South Koreans.

But many pointed out the naivete and ignorance of assuming that the collective had done something just to benefit the South Korean government, or any government for that matter.

@s_hunpark: 북한사이트 해킹한 어나니머스, 근데 우리나라 언론은 이들이 아나키즘적 성격의 해커그룹이란 것을 많이 강조하고 있지는 않은 것 같다. 심볼과 그간의 활동만 봐도 아나키즘적 성향이 매우 강한 해커그룹인데[...]

@s_hunpark: Anonymous hacked North Korean sites– what Korean local media choose to ignore is the group's anarchistic nature. Their previous activities and their symbols shows that they are an anarchist group (that doesn't believe in government of any kind).

More serious discussions have formed around the possibility of this data being used to investigate and monitor citizens. Influential Twitterati and lawyer Choi Young-ho (@Lawyer_Korea) answered [ko] the legal question:

@Lawyer_KOREA: [...] 거기서 취득한 자료 자체를 국가보안법상 이적단체가입,방조의 증거로 사용할 순 없어도, 거기 나온 생년월일, 이멜주소로 특정된 2차 자료사용은 적법(대법원 판례)

@Lawyer_KOREA: According to Supreme Court precedent, (people can) use information from the Uriminzokkiri site, although this information would not be accepted as a legal proof of someone joining, aiding, and abetting an anti-state organization under our national security law. However, they can surely use the date of birth and email address as secondary sources in court.

April 03 2013

Anonymous Claims It Hacked North Korea Government Site

Hackers/Hacktivist collective Anonymous claim to have hacked North Korean government websites and stole more than 15,000 user records. North Korea Tech blog wrote about their message posted online. 

South and North Korea in ‘State of War’

North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats against South Korea and its allies. The North's latest aggression, however, has been as intense as ever and tensions in East Asia region have escalated dangerously fast over the past few weeks.

After the North nullified the armistice with the South Korea in early March 2013, the U.S.-South Korea executed joint military drills as a show of force. On March 28, the U.S.’s B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean peninsula and North's leader Kim Jong-un, taking this as the last straw and ordered missiles on standby on March 29. The next day, Kim also announced that the North is in a “state of war” with South Korea and vowed to shut down the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas. On March 31, the United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea for another military drill.

Image of the U.S.-South Korea Annual Military Drill, Uploaded by Flickr user

Image of the U.S.-South Korea Annual Military Drill, Uploaded by Flickr user U.S. Army Korea (Historical Image Archive)

Even to South Koreans who have been overexposed to all kinds of hostile signals coming from the North, current developments were frightening indeed. And some net users tried to calm themselves by bringing up the old saying of ‘Barking Dog Never Bites’–which has become one of the most used metaphors in the Twitterverse and Blogsphere. However, how net users employed this clause, varied.

@idk209: 누군가 그러든데, 예전엔 한미가 대규모 훈련을 하면 북한도 맞대응 훈련을 했는데, 이젠 그것도 힘에 부치니 입으로 짖어대는 거라고.. 대게 맹렬하게 짖는 개들은 겁에 질려서 짖는 것이고, 그렇게 짖는 개가 무는 경우는 별로 없다…

@idk209: Some said the North, that usually responds to the US-South Korea joint military drills by having its own drills afterwards, is now in a situation that it lacks the stamina and tries instead to bark loud. Dogs, when frightened, bark murderously loud, but rarely bite.

@tobeto01: 북한의 전쟁 운운에 대하여..”짖는개는 물지 않는단”다. 하지만 그개가 미친개라면? 물리면 광견병 걸린다.

@tobeto01: Regarding North Korea’s war rhetoric, people say “Barking dog never bites”. But what if that dog is a crazy one? Victims will get rabies (referring to the following aftermath) when bitten by crazy one.

@nezerac: 안 짖는 개가 더 무섭다. 북한이 떠들면 떠들수록 개털이라는 말 하지만 우린 최악의 상황을 가정해서 대비를 해야 한다. 일일히 대꾸할 필요없다[...]

@nezerac: Of course seldom-barking dogs are more scary. And surely North Korea- the more they bark, the more they make fun of themselves by doing so. But still, we do need to prepare for the worst case scenario. But there is no need to respond every time to each of their barking.

But of course, there were some usual uninterested net users who have had so much disturbing news about North Korea that they grew numb to it. A tweet below shows how South Koreans take this news, comparing it to how Japanese citizens who are living in a country so prone to earthquakes, respond to news about earthquakes.

@kor_heinrich: 일본 : 강도 5도의 지진 발생 외신: 헐!! 야단났네! 일본국민 : 별거아님 자주있는 일임 한국: 북한, 서울 불바다 만들겠다! 외신 : 헐 야단났네! 한국국민: 별거아님 자주있는일임

@kor_heinrich: [Japan] When an earthquake of magnitude five points hits Japan, international Media says: Gasp! What a crisis!! Japanese citizen says: No biggie. That happens a lot more than you think. [South Korea] When North Korea claims it will turn Seoul into ‘sea of fire’, international Media says: Gasp! What a crisis!! Korean Citizen says: No biggie. That happens a lot more than you think.

When Gaesung Industrial complex, which provides the North access to $2 billion in trade a year, is closed, local reports predict it will affect livelihood of 300 thousand North Koreans [ko]. Some people discuss how different the crisis’ implications would be for North Korean power elite and ordinary North Korean citizens.

hssi84: 북한 지도층은 너무 권력의 물을 많이 먹어서 절대 권력을 놓치려 안할거란 사실이죠. 그런 사실로 봤을때는 망할 수도 있는 전쟁따위는 버릴겁니다. 권력은 쉽게 버릴수도 게임처럼 질러보기식으로 던질 수 없는거자나요

hssi84: North Korean leadership, who had too much of the sweet taste of power, will never let the power slip away. Those people are unlikely to risk a war which they will lose. Power is not just a random game they can merely try-out for fun nor something they can afford losing.

@ourholykorea: [...] 평화 시가 전쟁 시보다 나을 바가 없기 때문이다. 6.25때 죽은 사람보다 90년대 배급중단으로 굶어죽은 사람 숫자가 더 많았던 게 현실이다.

@ourholykorea: (for North Korean people) Peace situation is not better than war. It is cruel reality that more North Korean people died back in 90s when food distribution halted than those killed during the Korean War.

The tensions and conflicts have increased so far with no sign of alleviation, and some predictions claim Kim Jong-un may actually pull the trigger just not to lose face [ko]. More than a few net users voiced concern that responding to hostility with more hostility may not be a wise move, considering what South Korea could lose in case of a real war.

@toplkw: ”북한 도발시 1차 세계대전 수준 사상자 발생” http://www.viewsnnews.com/article/view.jsp?seq=98067 적대관계와 냉전적사고로가면 우리안보가 튼튼해지나 이 수구들아.

@toplkw: In the case of North Korea actually making (some military) provocations, the number of victims could amount to those of the World War 1: link to local article [ko] Listen, you conservatives: It is unlikely that responding to their hostility with another hostility (will ever solve the problem) and having cold-war mentality will not magically strengthen our national security.

@welovehani:미 스텔스 전투기가 한반도에 떠서 안전해지면 좋았겠지만. 북한의 반응은 정전협정 파기 선언. 도발은 북이 먼저 했기에 비난받아 마땅하지만. 도발에 똑같이 도발하는 대응 방식에 미국에서마저도 우려의 목소리가 나오고 있다.

@welovehani: It would have been good if the U.S.’s stealth flights which flew over the Korean peninsula worked in a way of protecting our security. However (after that) the North Korea decided to announce the end of the truce. I am not defending the North, actually I blame them for having started all these provocations in the first place. But even some people in the United States, have started voicing worries on how the U.S. handles this situation– responding to provocation with equal provocation.

April 02 2013

The Islamic Caliphate of North Korea

A tweet [ko] directing people to this fake blog post received quite some attention on April Fools’ day. Looking like a legit news article, the post says that North Korea announced that it is now an Islamic state and it includes detailed claims such as:

Kim Jong-un ‘asserted ‘every previous leader of North Korea were actually Muslim prophets, and so is Kim Jong-un himself’ and ‘Islamic leaders were highly offended by Kim Jong-un’s announcement.’

March 26 2013

South Koreans Blast Authorities Over Hack Attack Handling

Questions remain over the origin of the massive cyber attack against major websites in South Korea last week.

After a suspected hack attack struck South Korean banks and media companies on March 20, 2013 and damaged 32,000 computers, South Korean authorities were quick to jump to the conclusion that the attack originated from North Korea. Initial reports claimed the attackers’ IP address seems to be coming from China, but a few days later officials contradicted their previous claims, saying that an internal IP address from one of the banks was infected by the malicious code.

Nearly a week after the attack, the identity of the attackers remains unknown. Frustrated South Koreans have slammed authorities in their comments online for their incompetence in blocking such attacks and for taking political advantage of the situation by blaming North Korea.

Many Twitter users, while not denying the existence of a North Korean hacker army, were suspicious of the attack's timing. South Korean authorities have accused the North of cyber attacks before, including similar attacks back in 20092011, and 2012. Some speculated this most recent attack might be a convenient way to distract the public from allegations against the country's top intelligence agency, called the National Intelligence Service, of improper political involvement:

Image of Hackers

Image by Flickr user José Goulão, Color Altered by Author (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

@onsaemiro3: 국정원 정치 개입이 실체화되자.. 절묘한 타이밍에 후이즈의 해킹 기습! 극우파와 메이저 언론은 북한 소행이라고 일제히 대서특필! 아~ 국민들 병신 만들기 능력은 정말 세계최고!

@onsaemiro3: The moment the National Intelligence Service's political involvement is made clearer, there happens to be hacking attacks coming from Whois (a new, unknown group claiming credit for the attack)- at such exact timing. The extreme right-wing group and mainstream media unanimously made headlines that read “it was done by North Korea”. Their ability to fool their own people are one of the best in the world.

@ifkorea: 해킹을 북한이 했다고 하면 국정원의 인터넷 감시활동이 일정 정도 당위성이 생겨 박근혜 지지자들의 옹호여론을 만들 수 있다. IP가 중국에 있으니 북한소행으로 추정된다는 요상한 드립을 했으나 거짓으로 드러남.이러니 무슨 말을 해도 안믿는 것이다.

@ifkorea: If the hacking attack were indeed carried out by the North, the National Intelligence Service's Internet censorship activities can be justified and this could work in a way to support [new South Korean President] Park Geun-hye. They conjured up a ridiculous story that it was done by the North since the attackers’ IP addresses were coming from China – which was discovered to be false. When these things keep happening, people can no longer believe in anything they say.

@woohyung: “북한 소행일 가능성 높다”등의 공격주체에 집착하는 이른바 “전문가”는 사실은 비전문가 임을 증명하는 셈이고, 언론도 이를 강조하면 잘못된 보도. 한국에만 꼭 이런 사고가 일어나는게 북한때문이라고 믿는것은 거의 사이비광신종교 수준이 아닐까 생각.

@woohyung: The so-called “pundits” prove themselves to be no where close to being pundits by focusing on who launched the attack and claiming “it is highly likely North Korea did it”. And the media made the same mistake by doing so. The belief that such things happen in South Korea only because of North Korea is almost irrational as some religious cults.

Some Web users, such as @eungu, analyzed what made South Korea particularly prone to hacking attacks:

@eungu: 한국처럼 해킹하기 좋은 나라도 없을겁니다. 액티브X를 설치하는걸 습관처럼 여기는 나라니 뭐가 떠서 설치하라고 하면 습관처럼 ‘Yes'를 누를테고, 해킹을 해도 무조건 북한 소행이라고 하니 잡히지도 않고…#해커들의_놀이터_한국

@eungu: There is no nation more inviting to hacking attacks than South Korea. It is so frequent for [Korean] websites to force users to install Active X [before using their service]. Users, when confronted with messages “will you install this software?”, they habitually hit “yes”. Even after the hacking attack is done, they would unconditionally blame North Korea making it extra hard to catch the real victim. #hacker's_playground_SouthKorea

Many worry the habit of blaming North Korea for every cyber attack could have consequences later on. Net user ID:Ssuda on the TodayHumor site employed [ko] the fable of the boy who cried “wolf!” to describe the possible aftermath:

요즘 북한 김정은돼지가 미쳐서 안보가 위협적인상황인건 알지만 어제 해킹사건과 오늘 공습경보 속보를 보면서 양치기 소년 이야기가 떠오르는건 저뿐인가요 거짓말로 안보안보 외치다가 진짜로 북한이 일을 터쳣을때 우리가 너무 무감각해지지않을지[...]

I know that we are in the middle of the national security crisis thanks to that pig Kim Jong-un up in the North. But when I heard about today's air raid announcement in North Korea (which happened for several hours) and yesterday's hacking event, is it only me who is reminded of the story of the Shepherd Boy and the Wolf? I am worried that falsely shouting out that there is a breach of national security could make us unresponsive in times of real crisis if the North actually does something horrible.

March 17 2013

Blogger Rips Western Media's Laziness in North Korean Coverage

By investigating the most recent North Korean propaganda video, Blogger TJ reveals that basic fact-checking is being ignored when it comes to Western media reporting on North Korea

March 13 2013

South Koreans Rip ‘Chicken Hawk’ Politicians As War Rhetoric Heats Up

South Koreans are taking aim at the increasingly pro-war rhetoric coming from draft-dodging politicians in the country's government now that North Korea has nullified the armistice between the two Koreas.

Chicken hawk“, meaning someone who is pro-war but has shirked his or her own military duty, has become standard vocabulary for South Koreans online as criticisms of hypocrisy mount against the political class for solely promoting extreme military action [ko] against North Korea.

Two years of military service is mandatory in South Korea for every able-bodied man, but countless politicians have managed to avoid service. The ruling conservative Saenuri party, many of whom are warmongers, are reported to have a rate three times higher of draft dodgers [ko] than the other parties, and nine out of the new administration's 17 nominees are facing accusations of [ko] illegally evading military service.

Web users in South Korea retweeted this tweet discussing the country's chicken hawks more than 255 times:

@odoomark: '치킨호크(chicken hawk)'라는 말이 있습니다. 자신은 전쟁이 무서워 징집을 기피하면서 남들에겐 국가와 자유수호를 위해 전쟁터에 나가라며 등을 떠민 정치인들을 일컫는 말입니다. 비겁한 사람일수록 두려움을 감추기 위해 용기를 과장하는 법입니다.

@odoomark: The word “chicken hawk” indicates politicians who, though fearing war on the inside, dodged the draft but push others to go to war to fulfill their duty to protect their nation and freedom. The cowards always brag how courageous they are to hide their fear.

Draft-dodging is an epidemic in South Korean society, especially rampant among the upper class who [ko] fake injuries or illness and forge medical documents to corroborate their excuse, or who acquire foreign nationality and stay abroad until the age of 37 to get exempted. It was easy to find angry tweets aimed at them.

A member of the United Nations Command Security Battalion/Joint Security Area (UNCSB/JSA), Scout Platoon, returns from a patrol of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Upload by Flickr user expertinfantry (CC BY 2.0)

A member of the United Nations Command Security Battalion/Joint Security Area (UNCSB/JSA), Scout Platoon, returns from a patrol of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. Upload by Flickr user @expertinfantry (CC BY 2.0)

 @junniya 군미필자들이 나라와 국민들을 전쟁으로 내몰고 있는 형국[...]

@junniya: The draft dodgers are driving the country and people into the war.

@jollymankr: 소위 치킨 호크라는 자들, 전쟁을 모르니까 더 전쟁광이 되는 건 아닌가 하는 생각도 드네요. 말하자면 피는 고사하고 최소한 군대라도 가서 땀도 흘려 본적이 없는 자들이니, 피는 그냥 남들이 흘려주는 거라 생각 하는 거 아닐지.

@jollymankr: The so-called chicken hawks, I think those people are becoming war maniacs since they really don't get how (terrible) war is. They have never shed blood, not even shed sweat during the mandatory military service. They may think blood-shedding is somebody else's task.

@chsk92a: 군대도 안간 것들이 전쟁 불사를 외치고 있네. 만일 무슨 일 벌어지면 여기 있는 인물들을 최전방으로 보내야해.

@chsk92a: Those draft dodgers are shouting that they don't fear and never try to escape a war. If something really happens, we should send those folks to the very frontline of the war.

@LawyerHanWoong: 치킨호크인 이 자들은 그 정체를 숨기기 위해 빨갱이 종북을 입에 달고 사는 경향이 뚜렷합니다!

@LawyerHanWoong: These people always call others “Pro-North Korea, red commies” because they think they can hide the fact that they are the chicken hawks by doing so.

Net users pointed out the parallels between the context behind the term's usage in the United States and in South Korea:

@peterya: '치킨호크'. 과거, 전쟁불사를 외치면서도 정작 징집을 기피한 미국 공화당내 매파의원들을 일컫는 말이다. 2013년 대한민국. 씽크로율 100%

@peterya: “Chicken hawk” in the past referred to the hawkish politicians from the Republican party in the US who dodged the draft although they shouted the war cannot be escaped/should not be feared — 100 percent identical to the situation we are having in the year 2013.

@mettayoon: 조지 부시의 ‘테러와의 전쟁’ 때, 미 행정부의 중심축인 이른바 ‘네오콘'들은 알고 보니 모두 ‘치킨 호크'였다고 합니다. [...]지금 새누리의 강경론자들은 어떤가요?

@mettayoon: During George Bush's War on Terror, some neo-cons who took leading roles in the administration were found out to be “chicken hawks”. And what of the warmongering politicians from the ruling Saenuri party?

March 07 2013

U.N. Passes Sanctions After North Korea's Nuclear Threat

The U.N. Security Council has decided to impose tougher sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang threatened to launch ‘preemptive nuclear attacks’ on the United Stated and neighboring South Korea. North Korea Leadership Watch wrote about the latest developments, including North Korea staging a mass Army-People solidarity rally.

March 06 2013

South Koreans Dub North Korea's Armistice Threat a Daring Aid Ploy

North Korea has threatened to nullify the armistice that ended the Korean War, escalating the already heightened tension in East Asia region and leaving some South Koreans whirling at the brazen threat from their northern neighbor.

The ultimatum was a disturbing move by North Korea, who conducted its third nuclear test on last month. Angry over planned sanctions from the United Nations, North Korea declared on March 5, 2013 that it will end the ceasefire between the Koreas and cut off direct phone links with South Korea if the United States and South Korea go through with their annual joint military exercises.

Although peace continued over 60 years, North and South Korea are technically at war after the Korean War ended in a truce in 1953.

South Korean Web users were quick to analyze and interpret the threat, with a majority decided that it was the most wild, daring stunt North Korea has pulled to win more food aid from South Korea and dissuade the US from enacting tougher sanctions.

North Korean Soldier at DMZ

North Korean Soldier at DMZ, public domain

The initial online reaction in South Korea was quite chaotic, buzzing with with overly-hyped tweets from news organizations and from South Koreans trying to remind themselves that they are living technically on the brink of war:

@ubbbe: 일부 안보개념이 부족한 분들을 위해서 말씀 드립니다. ” 정전협정 폐지” 는 ” 휴전 상황 종료 ” 입니다. 북한이 이제 막바지로 버티나봐요.

@ubbbe: I will bring up this fact for some people who have no idea about the national security issue. “Nullifying the armistice” means “ending the break (we had) from the war”. It also signals that the North Korean regime has hit a dead end.

The chaos was intensified thanks to local media's misleading reports on Twitter that led some to believe that North Korea has already declared a war:

@iron_heel: 언론사 트윗의 속보에 낚이지 말자. 북한이 1953년 정전협정을 철회하겠다고 일제히 [속보] 트윗을 날렸다. 근데 북한이 내세운 전제조건은 쏙 뺏다. 한미 훈련을 실시하면….이라는 전제 조건을 말이다.

@iron_heel: Don't be fooled by the (Korean) media's tweets. They tweeted “North Korea announced they will nullify the 1953 armistice”, omitting the precondition that North Korea has set. North Korea said [they will do so] “if we forge ahead with the US-South Korea joint military operation”.

However, several Twitter users responded to the above tweet [ko] writing that reports such as those are probably accurate, although they indeed left out the precondition part, because the annual US-South Korea military drills are hardly ever canceled simply due to pressure from North Korea. One response read [ko]:

@v542v:어이없어서 글남깁니다.언론사에서 이런 장난치겠습니까.그것도 찌라시도아니고 모든언론에서기사가 나오는데.[...] 미군이 주둔해있는이상 한미훈련은 계속할수밖에없을겁니다.

@v542v: I am writing this because [your claim] was so absurd. Why would media want to fool you in such a way? Not only those [discredited] tabloids, but almost every news outlet reported this way. [...] As long as the US Army is in South Korea, the US-South Korea joint military drills will go ahead as planned.

The fact that North Korea set a specific date, March 11, 2013, to end the armistice led many to interpret the threat as North Korean brinkmanship. Below are net users interpretations posted in one question-and-answer thread [ko] on the popular information-sharing site, Naver KIN (Knowledge-IN):

Q (by user ID: shk****) : 방금어떤기사보니까 11일부터 폐지?라고 북한이 선포했다는데. 왜이리날짜를 자세하게알려주지[...] 진짜전쟁할꺼였으면 지금당장하지않았을까요? [...]저 날짜까지 식량좀달라는거아닐까요? A (by user ID: helicomoon): 일종에 남한 정부에게위협주고 미국에 대화하자고 신호를보내는방식입니다. 그 수단이 외교적인 것이 아니고 군사적 위협이란 것입니다 [...] 휴전협정 파기를 갖고 이미 수 십번 공갈친 전력이 있어 새로운 소재는아니지만 현정부와 대화창구가 절실하다는 것입니다

Q (by user ID: shk****): There are news articles that say North Korea vowed to nullify the armistice starting on March 11. This made me wonder why they give out such specific date. If they really were seriously thinking of a war, they would have just started right away. I'm rather inclined to interpret that as North Korea saying “give us the food until that deadline.”
A:(by user ID: helicomoon): It is their way of signaling that they want to have a talk with the United States, at the same time flexing their muscles at the [new] South Korean government. They are communicating in military fashion, instead of doing it diplomatically. North Korea's tactic is not entirely new and they have lied to us so many times by blackmailing us, saying that they would end the armistice. But it still means that they really do need a channel through which they can discuss [issues] with the current government.

And this Twitter user backed the claim up by linking to an old article published in 1995:

@warden_pn사실 이번에 북한에서 한 정전협정 파기 드립은 [링크연결]옛날에도 한번 있었던 일이다. 이번에도 초강수 한번 둔건데 그걸로 북한이 해주는대로 하자면 그건 북한에게 놀아나자는 꼴.

@warden_pn: Actually, North Korea's stunt of threatening us to end the armistice has happened before. [link to the 1995 article where North Korea made a similar threat] It was just their most daring, wild stunt. And if we [get threatened by this] and give them whatever they want, it would be playing right into their hands.

A majority of Web users similarly interpreted North Korea's move as a tantrum to win food aid for their starving nation. Several people from the TodayHumor website pointed out [ko] that North Korea has never been fully committed to the armistice, given their many military provocations in the past. And if they were really seriously considering starting a war, they would have already declared so and fired their missiles right from the start.

Other Twitter users mentioned that South Korean politicians will try to take advantage of the collective fear caused by the heightened military tension, as they always have done:

@ex_armydoc: 아시는지 모르겠지만, 북한은 매년 한미 합동훈련, 그리고 호국훈련 때마다 비슷한 이야기를 반복하고 있습니다. 물론 이번 ‘정전협정 백지화’는 꽤 크긴 합니다만, 심심하면 ‘서울을 불바다로 만들겠다’고 하는 애들이고, 또 매번 정부는 이를 이용하죠.

@ex_armydoc: For some of you who don't know this: North Korea has repeated this same rhetoric during the US-South military drill almost every year and during the annual “Safeguarding the Nation” military drill. It doesn't mean that this “nullification of armistice” is a huge event, but don't forget the fact that North Korea has constantly said they will “burn South Korea to ashes” and our government has always used this to their political advantage.

March 05 2013

Pirate Bay's ‘Defection’ to North Korea a Hoax

The Pirate Bay, one of the internet's oldest pirate sites, claimed Monday that it has stopped using its Swedish hosting provider and now running from the North Korean Internet. However, within less than 24 hours, it came clean and explained it was a hoax, reports North Korea Tech. 

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

February 27 2013

U.S. and South Korea: A Show of Force, But Running Out of Options?

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

US troops rendering honors to the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer

US troops rendering honors to the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer (ROKS). Photo: US Navy on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

North Korea’s third nuclear test provided the ideal opportunity for the United States and South Korea to respond with their own displays of military muscle. Two days after the test, South Korea showcased a cruise missile that Seoul claims can hit targets anywhere in the North. This month was also the first time in almost two decades that an American nuclear submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles entered South Korean waters.

Thus, the endless cycle of North Korean provocation, joint military drills and verbal war continues. Yet it remains difficult to find to find good analysis on next steps that need to be taken to address the impasse on the Peninsula.

Prominent South Korean blogger, ImPeter, for example, argued against [ko] preemptive strikes against the North’s nuclear facilities, a strategy that the Defense Ministry recently labeled the ‘kill-chain’. Instead, Seoul needs to develop a better backup plan than simply to rely on the “nuclear umbrella” provided by the United States. ImPeter also claims that even though South Korean anti-ballistic missile systems are improving, there is still a significant margin of error that could have deadly consequences:

There are just so many uncontrollable factors in a war that cannot be predicted even with careful consideration of all the data we can pull together. Once our predictions fail, the damage could be catastrophic [...] When North Korea forged ahead with its nuclear tests, all the media repeated that South Korea could launch preemptive strikes [on North Korea's nuclear weapons]. But they never mentioned the possibility that these strikes could fail and lead to more serious consequences—- perhaps all-out war.

Indeed, commentators also warn that no matter how strongly the U.S. and its allies apply pressure on Pyongyang, the North has enough artillery (without nuclear weapons) to strike and cause considerable damage to Seoul.

Migukin on Asia Pundits discussed the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula:

Now, for me, the biggest question is why in the world would the North start a war to begin with? The only thing I can think of is once they get a few nuclear weapons and they feel comfortable that they have the ability to hit the U.S. with them, they may feel that is their ultimate failsafe. That’s the thing that really worries me. That the North is close to no longer being a “rational actor” and that once they feel they can actually strike the U.S. with a nuke that they will attack the South thinking they might actually be able to pull off unification on their terms.
I could see something like this happening: China finally gets fed up with the North, stops giving them food aid and the North goes crazy, lashing out in frustration. (Another scenario I’ve heard of is the North would do an artillery barrage on Seoul then just stop, feeling they had made their point.)

Based on such gloomy predictions, the denuclearization of North Korea, a major topic for decades, now seems to be a dim and distant prospect. Indeed, South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak has reportedly abandoned hope of denuclearization, an opinion held across the international community. In a post for the Royal United Services Institute, Edward Schwarck and Andrea Berger argued:

The difference this time around, however, is that the North’s nuclear programme may no longer be negotiable [...] In recent years, engagement has had a nuclear focus. But Pyongyang’s change in rhetoric over denuclearisation suggests this may no longer be a feasible approach for the West and its allies. [...] Pyongyang has intentionally borrowed the West’s own rhetoric to highlight a double standard that nuclear weapons states will find it difficult to argue with. Logic propounded by the North Korean regime is shared by Washington, London, and Paris: a nuclear-armed state seeking to guarantee the security of its citizens must retain a credible deterrent so long as others continue to possess nuclear weapons.

James Acton for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace suggested a more subtle approach of shifting the focus from denuclearization to nonproliferation.

While periodically bribing Pyongyang to suspend missile and nuclear tests may slow the program, the North Korean regime appears to have concluded that nuclear weapons are simply too vital to its own survival to trade them away[...] The United States should not formally renounce the policy of denuclearization or publicly “accept” North Korea as a legitimate nuclear-armed state. However, it does need to refocus its efforts on more attainable goals: deterrence and nonproliferation. Plans by the United States and its allies to deter North Korea are relatively advanced. By contrast, while the challenge of stemming proliferation from North Korea has not been entirely ignored, it has not attracted anything like the attention or energy it merits.

Acton advises the United States to consult with relevant countries, especially China, on curbing the pace of North Korea’s nuclear development and to have more talks.

North Korea’s controversial nuclear program will make ripples in political, military and diplomatic circles for the foreseeable future. But time is running short for South Korea and the U.S. to face North Korea with good cards in hand.

ISN logoThis post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.

February 21 2013

Another North Korean Video Removed From Youtube

Its been less than a month a video uploaded by North Korean official account Uriminzokkiri was removed from the Youtube for copyrights infringement. Another propaganda video has been recently removed for using the soundtrack of a video game without consent. North Korea Tech explains in detail about the recurring copyrights infringement cases.

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